Understanding the Agency of Diversity Managers: A Relational and Multilevel Investigation.
This thesis aims to provide a critical realist account of diversity managers' agency, incorporating a critique of the existing diversity management research. A multilevel and relational analytical framework is offered in order to understand diversity managers' agency. The framework interpreted and operationalised Bourdieu's key concepts, `field', `habitus', `capitals' and `strategies' in the organisational context, for exploring and explaining macro, meso and micro level influences on the agency of diversity managers. The macro-social field of diversity management is mapped out by analysing data from an online national survey completed by diversity managers in the UK, and in-depth interviews with diversity managers of large public and private sector organisations. Then, findings of an extensive case study of Ford Motor Company, which includes company documentation and interviews with the company's diversity managers, are introduced to examine meso-organisational and micro-individual dynamics of diversity managers' agency. The analysis of the findings revealed that the agency of diversity managers is multilayered and complex. Whilst the boundaries of this agency are drawn by the deeply seated structures and mechanisms which are embedded in the fabric of social and organisational lives, diversity managers own varying degrees of social, cultural and symbolic capitals which are potential sources of power and influence, and they utilise strategies in order to activate this potential and widen the scope of their agency. The thesis addresses the limitations in diversity management literature, which are associated with dualisms of agency and structure, and qualitative and quantitative methods. It makes theoretical and methodological contribution by offering original empirical evidence generated through a multi-method strategy and analysing diversity managers' agency at the interplay of agentic and structural dynamics. It also offers policy makers at organisational and national levels a realistic understanding of diversity management processes that may inform design of more effective and progressive policies and initiatives.
- Theses